Erythrina variegata (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Erythrina variegata L.

Protologue: Herb. Amb.: 10 (1754); Amoen. acad. 4: 122 (1759).


  • Erythrina indica Lamk (1786),
  • Erythrina orientalis (L.) Murray (1787),
  • Erythrina variegata L. var. orientalis (L.) Merr. (1917).

Vernacular names

  • Indian coral tree, variegated coral tree (En)
  • Indian coral bean, tiger's claw (Am)
  • Arbre au corail, arbre immortel (Fr)
  • Indonesia: dadap ayam (Javanese), dadap blendung (Sundanese), galala itam (Moluccas), dede bineh (Madurese)
  • Malaysia: dedap, cengkering, radap (Rungus, Sabah)
  • Papua New Guinea: balbal (Ravat, East New Britain Province), bigini (Hulu, Central Province), namatia (Buang, Morobe Province)
  • Philippines: karapdap (Tagalog), andorogat (Bikol), bagbag (Ilokano)
  • Burma (Myanmar): penglay-kathit
  • Cambodia: rolouohs bay
  • Laos: dok 'kho, thong ban2
  • Thailand: thong lang lai (central), thong phueak (northern), thong baan
  • Vietnam: cây vông nem, hài dồng bì (Anamese), dan ro (Thuân Hai)


E. variegata is a native of the coastal forests from East Africa, the Indian Ocean Islands, from India, throughout South-East Asia, to the Pacific Islands and the Northern Territory and Queensland in Australia; widely cultivated throughout the tropics.


The leaves and bark are widely used medicinally in many South-East Asian countries. The bark is used as an antipyretic in Burma (Myanmar), and in decoction to treat liver problems in China and intermittent fever in Indo-China. A decoction of the bark and leaves is used to treat dysentery in Indonesia; sweetened, it is considered a good expectorant. The leaves, either fresh or as a decoction or extract of dried leaves, are employed as a soporific in Indonesia and Indo-China. The leaves, when eaten, are considered to act as a galactagogue; alternatively the breasts can be bathed with a lotion of the leaves. In Indonesia, the leaves and flowers are used to treat menstrual disorders. Throughout South-East Asia, the bark and leaves have been used in various ways to treat rheumatism and to relieve asthma and coughs. The roots and leaves are often employed to alleviate fever in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. In the Philippines and Malaysia, the bark is employed as an anodyne to relieve toothache. Crushed seeds are used as a poultice to treat cancer and abscesses in Indo-China, and are boiled in a little water as a remedy for snakebites in Malaysia. The leaves are commonly applied as a poultice on sores. In Sabah, the bark of the trunk is boiled to prepare teas or make a bath for skin diseases and impetigo. In India, the root and bark are called "paribhadra", a drug used in Ayurvedic medicine. The leaves are used as green manure and to a limited extent as fodder. Cooked leaves are eaten as a pot-herb. The raw seeds are poisonous but may be eaten after boiling or roasting. They are also said to have narcotic properties. The wood is of little use, even as firewood.


  • A deciduous tree, 3-27 m tall with fluted bole and much branched crown; trunk and branches thick and sappy, armed with large, scattered prickles, flowering branches often leafless; in cultivation often unarmed.
  • Petiole 2-28 cm long, stipules lanceolate, 1-1.5 cm long, rachis 10-12 cm long, leaflets ovate to broadly rhomboid, 4-25 cm × 5-30 cm, terminal one largest, base rounded or slightly cordate, apex acuminate, entire or sometimes shallowly lobed, thinly coriaceous, glabrescent, petiolule up to 1.5 cm long, at base with globose glandular stipels.
  • Inflorescence an axillary, dense raceme 10-40 cm long, ferruginous tomentose, lateral near the top of branchlets; peduncle 7-25 cm long; pedicel up to 1.5 cm long.
  • Flowers in groups of 3 scattered along the rachis; calyx eventually deeply spathaceous, 2-4 cm long, glabrescent, red; standard ovate-elliptical, 5-8 cm × 2.5-3.5 cm, shortly clawed, bright red (occasionally white) without white veins; wings and keel subequal, 1.5-2.5 cm long, red (occasionally white); stamens 5-7 cm long, monadelphous, vexillar stamen basally connate with the tube for 1 cm, red.
  • Fruit a sausage-shaped or long cylindrical pod, 10-45 cm × 2-3 cm, 1-13-seeded, slightly constricted between the seeds, glabrescent, distinctly veined and exocarp bursting irregularly, indehiscent.
  • Seed ellipsoid to reniform, 6-20 mm × 5-12 mm, smooth, glossy black, purplish or purplish red-brown.

Selected sources


  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.

176, 264, 407

  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1977. Medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea. Technical Paper No 175. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 123 pp., 739, 747, 786, 810, 1038. medicinals


  • Undang A. Dasuki
  • Umi Kalsom Yusuf